Warmest Winter Ever Recorded
In Parts Of Canada

By Chris Jermyn
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Warm winter. Usually an oxymoron, but almost an axiom in the southern parts of Ontario and Quebec from December to February. How warm was it?
"Winter in southern Ontario and southern Quebec was the warmest since national records began in 1948," Environment Canada reported Thursday. The average temperature was 4.8 C above normal, an amazing departure from average conditions.
"Toronto's winter was unprecedented, the warmest . . . since city records began in 1840. The average winter temperature was above freezing (1.3 C) and 4.7 C above normal." Daily highs were above freezing for 72 days.
Winter was exceptional in Montreal - the warmest in 60 years with an unprecedented 51 days above freezing. The average temperature of -3.3 C was 5.4 C above normal.
"For the first time since records began in 1941, the overnight lows did not reach the -20 C mark."
The department said the very warm conditions "may be a harbinger" of what winters in southern Ontario and southern Quebec will be like in 50 years.
Other Ontario cities experiencing record warmth were Hamilton, London, Ottawa and Windsor. In Quebec, Bagotville, Val D'Or and Quebec City were hot spots.
Snowfall was also scant this year.
"Most of Canada was drier than normal, especially the Prairies, southern Ontario, southern Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Central Alberta was the driest area, receiving less than half the normal precipitation."
The water equivalent of snow in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba as of March 1 was less than half of normal, raising concerns for agriculture.
While many people may have welcomed the warmth, Environment Canada had several concerns.
"Pests and diseases, which are normally kept in check by lengthy cold spells, are multiplying in some areas," it said, citing the mountain pine beetle threat to forests in British Columbia and the spread of a tick which causes Lyme disease.
In the far North, the opening of ice roads was delayed, increasing costs of consumer goods usually delivered in early winter. Winter tourism and mining also suffered.
Despite the warm news, Environment Canada had a warning about the lions of March:
"It should be noted that winter-like conditions can continue into March. Severe snow storms have occurred on occasion throughout March, or even April."
© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press

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